Sam Boyd

Sam Boyd (seated, foreground) enjoys a recent Missoula Osprey game with a group of local children.

MISSOULA — From his rainbow zebra-striped suit to his bouncy dance steps on the dugout, snappy Sam Boyd will do just about anything to captivate Missoula Osprey home crowds.

It's hard to believe he's 24 years old. Hard to imagine anyone pouring more energy into a job, from the 80-hour work weeks to time spent writing down fresh ideas for silly in-between-inning games at 3 in the morning.

"It's been crazy and it's been stressful, but it's been so much fun," said Boyd, whose official title is Osprey live entertainment and promotions specialist. "My favorite game is the Aw Snap. It's the bungee one where two people have life vests and they're attached by a bungee cord. They have to run and grab things.

"The first time we did it and someone got yanked back, you could hear the crowd just roar, like belly laughs. Just walking off the field that game was hilarious. That's the best."

Boyd borrowed that idea from the "Ellen" show. It was a crowd favorite up until Wednesday when the darn bungee attachment broke.

It's all good. The O's funny man has learned to take swings-and-misses in stride, like the time his food game went over like kale salad to a bunch of kids.

"People would put whip cream on their face and they had to throw cheese balls and catch them on their face," he explained. "It didn't go well. For some reason the cheese balls, when we were on the field, did not stick. We just had to laugh at ourselves and say we tried."

How does one, you may ask, choose the path of a baseball emcee funny man? It's funny you ask.

It all started in Memphis when Boyd led the student section of his high school at basketball and football games, dancing and wearing crazy outfits and leading cheers. He delved deeper at University of Memphis sporting events, then fine-tuned his craft as an intern for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, minor league baseball's Spokane Indians and Memphis Redbirds and minor league hockey's Mississippi RiverKings.

Full disclosure, Sam has never been a big baseball fan. But he fell in love with working minor league baseball while in Spokane.

His dream is to someday own a baseball team. Preferably a non-affiliated team because you can do even more crazy stuff, like dressing the players in kilts.

"I can't dictate what happens on the field, but I can dictate how the fans get to enjoy the time they're here," he said. "When I see people leaving the game with a smile on their face, even if we lose, that's what makes me proud. When those fans give me high fives, I know they had a good time."

On-the-field shenanigans are only part of Boyd's day-to-day regimen. He programs the snazzy new video board at Ogren-Allegiance Park and lays out a script. A lot of what you hear and see at the game has Boyd's name on it.

"Even if the baseball is not going well, let's let them have an incredible time," he offered. "You want to give the fans a wow moment, create a memory. Make it worth more than the price they're paying."

Boyd has noticed something about Missoula crowds. It's actually quite flattering.

"They're a lot more open to the different here," he opined. "They're open to more. Ready to not just have to focus on sports. They want more entertainment.

"Other places I've been, Spokane fans are super-dedicated to their team and in Memphis it's always all about the entertainment. This is a happy medium."

Keep on shining, you crazy diamond. Keep on rocking those silly polyester suits and red-striped overalls and gettin' jiggy Gangnam Style. 

From the sweat rolling off your brow, we can all see the effort you're pouring into your craft.

Take it from me, Sammy B, you're a perfect fit for a place they call Zootown.

Bill Speltz is the Deputy Sports Editor of the Missoulian. Email him at bill.speltz@missoulian.com or bill.speltz@406mtsports.com.

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